The winner of the elimination final will take on the Cronulla Sharks next weekend. (Photo: SportsBeezer)

The biggest rivalry in the NRL is about to explode as the Sydney Roosters take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs this Sunday, with the winner keeping their premiership hopes alive. The winner will take on the Cronulla Sharks in the next round of finals.

The Roosters and Rabbitohs have had a storied rivalry lasting more than 100 years in the NRL. Both clubs were a part of the inaugural rugby league season in 1908 and have since enjoyed success and disappointments.

The Roosters have had a mediocre season consisting of form inconsistency and injuries. They have been positioned anywhere from the top four to outside of the top eight. They finished the season with 15 wins, 32 points and a points differential of 201.

The Rabbitohs have had a consistent season but have failed to get higher than the bottom of the top eight. They finished the season with 14 wins, 30 points and a points differential of 130.

Both teams faced off against each other last week at the opening of the newly constructed Allianz Stadium. The Roosters went on to win 26-16 earning them the home final. Although they lost the game, Souths are just treating it as a warm-up game.

“(We) sort of got an idea of what they’ll come out like during the game. (Last week), it was just like a training run,” Souths back Isaiah Tass said.

Isaiah Tass is happy the Roosters will be without star player Joseph Manu this weekend. (Photo: NRL)

Both teams have made numerous changes to their line-up for the finals clash. The Rabbitohs gain international hooker Damien Cook who missed the past two weeks due to Covid-19 and underrated centre Campbell Graham who has been nursing an injury.

The Roosters welcome back star wingers Daniel Tupou and Joseph Suaalii. Accompanying them back into the team is utility Adam Keighran who will come off the bench and lock Victory Radley.

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Unfortunately, Kiwi international and one of the best players in the competition Joseph Manu will be out of the game.

“They have a few strong players coming back like Suaalii and Tupou. We just got to turn up, especially this time around, it’s do-or-die footy this weekend, and we just got to play our best footy,” Hama Sele said.

“We know, Radley. He’s got great ball playing in the middle there, so we’ll be expecting that,” veteran Thomas Burgess explained.

The last time both teams faced off against each other in a finals game was in 2019. The Roosters had a night to remember defeating the Rabbitohs 30-6. 18 players from this match will compete in the game this Sunday.

These players are headlined by James Tedesco, Victor Radley and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves for the Roosters and Alex Johnston, Damien Cook and Cameron Murray for the Rabbitohs. However, Latrell Mitchell will be the only player in this game to play for the opposing team this time.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs hope to make the Grand Final for the second consecutive year. After a disappointing loss to the Penrith Panthers in 2021, the players insist it’s not playing in the back of their minds. Instead, they believe it has given them an advantage heading into this year’s finals series.

“Making the grand final and losing, it gives makes you want to go back there and win again. It’s great that we are sort of experienced with the run that we did last year,” starting second-rower Keaon Koloamatangi said.

“You’ve just got to sort of replicate that in these finals, and I think we can do it.”

Damien Cook will be a nice added addition to the side this week. (Photo: NRL)

The Inner Sanctum spoke to four of the Rabbitohs players discussing what they need to work on from last week’s clash.

Hama Sele

“Just our defence; we’re a bit down around the middle. They [Roosters] fence up around the ruck. If we do that, I’m sure we can come away with the win.”

Keaon Koloamatangi

“Just our start. They blew us off the park in the first 20 (minutes), the first 40 (minutes) really. We’ve just got to start hard and start fast and see whoever cracks first.”

“We just got to keep our head on and stay strong for the 80 minutes. They (have) players that can sort of make anything out of nothing. We just got to stay on our line and stay confident and believe in each other and get the job done.”

Isaiah Tass

“The main thing is just to start the game really well. We went out there, I think the emotions were high, (and) the boys weren’t expecting it. Just the little things like tightening up in defence and locking them in their own end.”

Thomas Burgess

“I always say there’s that we can work on in the game. It’s no secret that we want to get a bit better. We (had) a really good session today really good session on Tuesday. It’s been a good week of training, which is good.”

The game will be televised on Channel Nine and Fox League with kick-off at 4:05 pm this Sunday.

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